Science Thursday – October 11, 2012


The work of Oregon State Police handwriting analysts is under scrutiny, retesting reveals a false positive test result in Minnesota, and research on crime scene fiber analysis might lead to new discoveries. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:


Handwriting evidence from over 30 cases in Oregon is under investigation. The analysts, who examine evidence from about 80 cases each year, allegedly

used procedures that don’t conform to agency policy

in a criminal case.


A large retesting effort in a St. Paul, Minnesota, crime lab uncovered a false positive in a drug possession case. The case has since been dropped. Indications that the lab had

ignored drug testing procedures and possibly used contaminated equipment

spurred the case review.


A Missouri appellate lawyer thinks certain forensic evidence, including a

possible contamination of DNA in the state crime lab

, might prove the innocence of his client.


With assistance from a National Institute of Justice grant, a Minnesota college will begin research to

develop new methods of analyzing fiber evidence in crime scene investigations

. The research will determine if fabric, with small differences in chemical composition based on environmental factors, can be useful evidence when presented in court.

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